I remember turning nineteen and having the sudden realization I was an adult. It was panic-inducing. I started sleeping with a teddy bear again, and listening to 80s and early 90s music, in an effort to recapture the youth I had lost.
Then I got a can opener for Christmas and I was genuinely excited about it, a moment that solidified my permanent transition into being old. And I have felt old ever since too, none of this, “I’m young and in the prime of my life” stuff. Since I opened my first can with my own can opener, I have heard the loud clicks of time ticking away. And it was deafening.
This is until I hit thirty-eight and said fuck this shit.
I felt less like an adult than I did at nineteen, before I knew that there was more to adulting than being able to drink legally and open your own Beefaroni. Oh I feel old, but I am still waiting on this being an adult thing to kick in.
Do any of us feel like competent adults? I’m now convinced that people who live to a hundred and three are still wondering what being an adult feels like. And I am okay with it.
And even better, I stopped giving a damn.
I started counting down the days until I hit forty instead of hyperventilating over the loss of my twenties and thirties.
Know why? Because forty is when we women come alive.
We are young enough to be active and do whatever we want to.
Want to go clubbing? Not that weird. Want to go back to school? Not that weird. But, want to spend a Saturday night painting your own pottery? Also not that weird.
We are at the perfect age to do young people things and old people things, and no one judges us for any of it.
We can own our bodies.
Our bodies tell stories. We’re still sexy, but we also have character. We have scars and wrinkles and signs we have lived. We can decide to dye our hair, or let our grey shine through.
Young people are on this trend where they are dying their hair silver. Well guess what, bitches, nothing beats natural grey hair. Nothing. It shimmers and sparkles like tinsel, and I can’t wait for my salt and pepper hair to turn stark white.
We become mentors.
The new person at work, the new parent, all the new people, they come to us for guidance. We are in our prime, and we have the experience to back it up. Not sure what to do? Find your nearest forty year old.
Sure, half the time, we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing – but we give off an air of confidence without the cockiness of youth.
We throw kick-ass parties.
They are every bit as loud and boisterous as when we were young – but we have hors d’oeuvres. And vintage wine. And better anecdotes to tell. You can keep your damn red Solo cups.
We start to really know who we are.
Up until this point, it felt like we were still searching. Our insecurities were amplified. We constantly wondered if we were enough.
Forty brings this comfort, like when a new house settles into its foundation. Our good parts and our bad, we know who we are.
We may still not know where we are going, but we are comfortable in the skin we’re in. We accept ourselves how we are, and we work to change what doesn’t fit.
We will stand up for ourselves and mean it. We will extend that protection to others. We will take no shit.
Bring it on, Forty, you wonderful old broad. I’m ready.